How, Then, Should Christians Vote? And do Evangelicals owe Bill Clinton an apology?

"What exactly do you suggest Christians do? Should they hold their nose and vote for Trump but endeavor to still see him clearly and hold him accountable for his misconduct? Should they vote for Democrats even when Democrats would protect abortion rights and restrict religious freedom? Or should they vote third party or write in a name?" - David French

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

David's view is essentially my own, and he definitely says parts of it better I've been able to, so far. I'm not ready to say we were wrong in the 90s. And if we were right then, that demands the same analysis in 2020 (as it should have in 2016). Some of my favorite bits... with emphasis added...

In each race, I impose a two-part test on candidates. First, they must possess a personal character that is worthy of the office they seek. Second, they must broadly share my political values. If a candidate fails either prong of that test, he or she doesn’t receive my vote. 

There was a time...when virtually every Christian conservative I know would nod along in ready agreement with both parts of that test. In fact, they were distressed—even anguished—that a critical mass of their fellow citizens didn’t seem to agree. So long as the economy boomed, they were blind or indifferent to the way in which profound failures of character not only degraded the nation’s culture, it damaged the nation’s social cohesion.

Given conservative Evangelicals’ stunning reversal on the importance of character in politicians, do they now owe Bill Clinton a heartfelt apology? But I think the Christian statements of the 1990s were exactly right. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said that his people were “the salt of the earth.” When I read that verse, I can still hear my youth pastor saying, “Salt preserves, y’all.”

I’m reminded of these famous words from John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” In other words, virtue is indispensable to the proper functioning of the American nation, and without that virtue, America could become, in Adams’s words, “the most miserable habitation in the world.”

One does not cure cultural moral cancer with more cancer.

If the world’s wealthiest and and most powerful collection of Christians are supine before their political masters in the United States, marching to the beat of secular drummers (even if allegedly “holding their noses” all the while) then I fear the message that sends is that we do not have faith that God’s providence governs the nations.

A defensive argument in response to one of the top two defenses of voting for an "electable, conservative" candidate of very poor character:

Theological truth can also create a pragmatic reality. Over time, perhaps the best method of cleansing our political class of the low, narcissistic characters who all too often occupy public office is to stop voting for them. 

Another defensive argument in response to the send of the top two defenses...

It’s no answer to respond by declaring, as so many Christians do, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” While we all may be equally in need of a savior, our characters are not all the same.... We know nobody’s perfect. But some men are decent. Some men are truthful. Some men are brave. Some men are none of those things. 

Back to the ethical implications...

Assuming Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I can’t vote for him. Even if I do like some of the things he’s done, he lacks the character to be president. 

I don’t see how it glorifies God to use the power of my vote or my voice to help make Donald Trump the world’s most powerful man. 

At the very least, it's another reminder that anti-Trump conservatives do exist, and that their rationale for not being Trump backers isn't some sort of newly-developed betrayal of the GOP or some kind of fake conservatism. It's consistency with what the conservative movement used to have at its core, back when it had principles. But whether the "movement" has principles anymore or not, conservatism itself still does.

TylerR's picture

Editor

This article perfectly crystallizes my own views:

“Whatever you do,” Paul says, “do all to the glory of God.” I don’t see how it glorifies God to use the power of my vote or my voice to help make Donald Trump the world’s most powerful man.

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

WallyMorris's picture

Obviously we live in a world more and more affected by sin, which also affects the character of the people presenting themselves for political office. You can argue theology, politics, and principles forever. If your conscience will not allow you to vote for someone, then don't vote for that person. Although a person may feel good about himself for voting or not voting based on principle, remember that someone will become President no matter what you do. NONE of those currently running for President have the personal character to become President. Yet one of them will be President. Trump has accomplished several good results. What would a President from a different political party have done? Are we so opposed to Trump that we would accept a homosexual President, a socialist President, or a President who would reverse many of the good policies of the current administration? I reluctantly voted for Trump in 2016 and will do so again this November. The alternatives are worse. This isn't abandoning conservative political principles. It's working with what you have.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The alternatives are worse. 

I've proven over and over that not all actions can be justified by a "the alternatives are worse" rationale.

But in the article itself, French deals with that objection... though in a muted way.

Theological truth can also create a pragmatic reality. Over time, perhaps the best method of cleansing our political class of the low, narcissistic characters who all too often occupy public office is to stop voting for them. 

So a question I have for you, Wally, and for the many who look at the situation that way, is this: How do you know this approach isn't just enabling the ongoing problem of "no candidate of suitable character to vote for"?

But this pretty much says it all...

NONE of those currently running for President have the personal character to become President.

If you believe that, it's clear that the right thing to do is not vote for any of them.

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I've been reading Augustine's City of God. There are shocking parallels about moral degeneracy in the latter stages of the Roman Empire to the West today. One of Augustine's main critiques is that this moral degeneracy destroyed the Empire. He advocated Christ as an alternative for the people. In our times, I cannot help but suspect that voting for Donald Trump will only hasten the moral chaos and filth that is our society. The fact that a Democrat may be worse is meaningless to me.

He will not inspire our young people to moral virtue. He does not stand for righteousness or justice. He is not a good example of manhood, leadership or responsibility. In short, he is not a good man. I will not vote for him.

If a pro-life Democrat isn't on the ticket, I likely won't vote at all. Regardless, WA is going blue in the electoral college so it matters little!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

WallyMorris's picture

My voting for a particular candidate or not voting for a particular candidate doesn't enable him as far as his character. He will be that way regardless of what I do. Not voting will not solve that problem at all. It will only satisfy personal conscience. The "lesser of two evils" argument is a vald argument in a sin-cursed world. The candidates for President are not all equal in morality or immorality, good or bad qualities. Differences DO exist among the candidates. I fail to see the moral rightness of how not voting for a poor Republican candidate is better morally than allowing a worse Democratic candidate to become President. None of the current candidates should be President. Yet ONE of them WILL be President. That is a FACT. Politics is not black and white because sin has muddied and complicated everything. The best method for "cleansing the political class" is the gospel. No, Aaron, it is not "clear that the right thing to do is not vote for any of them" because one of them WILL become President, whether you vote or not. If your conscience won't allow you to vote for anyone, then don't. But when a homosexual or socialist becomes President because Christians couldn't bring themselves to vote for a poor Republican candidate, don't complain about what the new President does. Tyler's reference to the City of God is helpful. But if "voting for Donald Trump will only hasten the moral chaos and filth that is our society", then wouldn't a homosexual President "hasten the moral chaos" even more? Or perhaps a socialist President who enables the "getting everything free" attitude, which is also a moral issue.

As those who follow Christ as Lord and King, we certainly reject the political and moral chaos/character of our time. We have to live in this world yet not love it nor be friends with it. Nevertheless, as citizens of a representative democracy which uses voting to choose leaders, we have to make SOME choice in November. The current choices are not ideal. Yet someone will be President regardless of what you do. Would I like to see someone like Pence as President. Sure. But I prefer to have Trump as President than a homosexual or a socialist. And I can live with that very well.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

G. N. Barkman's picture

that only a man like Donald Trump is able to withstand the unbelievable assaults against him, and fight back effectively?  I've never seen anyone do it before in my lifetime, and that includes Ronald Reagan, who was certainly first class all around.  He rose above the fray with his charming wit and smooth communication.  He was very popular, but did nothing to expose the underbelly of the unprincipled left.  He allowed the left to remain intact and more deeply entrenched in all levels of government.  Trump is the first president to fight the left on its own playing field.  It's not a pretty sight.  It's nasty warfare.  Frankly, I wouldn't have the stomach for it, nor does anyone who is gracious and principled.  Trump's a back ally gang fighter.  I think that's the only kind of person who stands a chance of exposing the deep seated corruption and actually draining the swamp.  I'm actually beginning to admire him for his incredible resilience and indefatigable fortitude.  He's probably the only person who might, just might, succeed in seriously damaging the left.

G. N. Barkman

WallyMorris's picture

G.N. Barkman has an excellent point, one which I have mentioned to several people when we have discussed this topic. Some of President Trump's negative qualities, as unsightly as they are, strangely give him the fortitude to confront certain evils. Washington politics is nasty, dirty, and certainly not Christian. Easy for us to talk about moral principle when we are not the ones directly fighting certain evils in Washington. I am in no way excusing sin or personal moral failure. But strange how President Trump has confronted the political and media left when Presidents who were supposedly more moral did not. If President Trump is not the choice for some Christians, then WHO realistically would you rather have to be President? Sadly, we do not have any other choices at this time. So we reluctantly accept who we have because the alternatives are much worse. Talk about moral principles all you want. The practical realities require a choice.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

TylerR's picture

Editor

Wally wrote:

The practical realities require a choice.

Agreed. My choice is to not vote for a man like Donald Trump.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

WallyMorris's picture

Yes, Tyler's decision to not vote for Trump is obviously a choice someone can make. Once a person decides not to vote for Trump, he then has to decide whether to vote for someone else or not vote at all. The "someone else" options are worse or, realistically as far as third party candidates, will not come close to getting elected. At best, third party candidates pull votes away from the Democrat or Republican candidates. In recent history, the electoral votes in Washington state have voted for the Democrat. Even so, I would suggest that individual votes DO matter even in those states which we are pretty sure will go Democrat since in 2016 Trump lost the popular vote, and some people continue to use that fact to claim his Presidency is illegitimate.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Larry's picture

Moderator

 Many of them may well pass the character test, but I cannot vote for a person who would put in place policies I believe are harmful and potentially destructive—especially to unborn life. 

Perhaps this says all that needs to be said about the judgment of David French. A person who can say that there are Democratic  candidates that "may well pass the character test" is a person who has disqualified himself or herself from any public voice.

Here's the things that people like French and Aaron, for all their talking, still don't get: We will be governed by a person of bad character. Which kind of bad character do you want? One with better policies or worse policies?

It is hard to imagine any reasonable person preferring bad character and bad policies to bad character and better policies. Such abdication of moral responsibility is staggering. And make no mistake about it: It is an abdication of moral responsibility. Multiplying words with philosophical sounding arguments will not change that. The emperor will still have no clothes .

RajeshG's picture

Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2 teach us about what God's priorities are for governmental authorities. None of the Democrat candidates will govern in keeping with either passage. President Trump, by strong contrast, has enacted policies in keeping with the rule of law and conducive to or at least not opposed to Christian worship and Christians living out their lives in the fear of God.

Concerning his character, perhaps considering the situation in the time of Samson is relevant. Should righteous Israelites have refused Samson's leadership because he displayed serious moral deficits while he was exercising the office of being a judge over Israel?

It's important also to consider that unlike Samson, President Trump has not engaged in any immoral behavior of a sexual nature during his time in office.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Reading some of the pro-Trump comments here, I feel as though I inhabit another moral universe than some of my brothers and sisters. I suspect some pro-Trump Christians feel the same after reading my own remarks. Here's my summary of all the pro-Trump arguments I've seen:

Yeah, Trump's a bully and a thug, but at least he's OUR thug!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

RajeshG's picture

TylerR wrote:

Reading some of the pro-Trump comments here, I feel as though I inhabit another moral universe than some of my brothers and sisters. I suspect some pro-Trump Christians feel the same after reading my own remarks. Here's my summary of all the pro-Trump arguments I've seen:

Yeah, Trump's a bully and a thug, but at least he's OUR thug!

I cannot speak for anyone else, but my comments were based on an objective assessment of how he has governed in the ways that I specified and do not reflect any support of him concerning his other actions when he has not behaved himself in a commendable way. 

WallyMorris's picture

RajeshG has some helpful comments.

Characterizing the discussion here as either pro-Trump or anti-Trump unnecessarily places the positions debated here into only 2 categories. Tyler's comment about Trump being "our thug" mischaracterizes my position and probably the position of several others. As far as "bully" and "thug", the political party which desires to replace Trump has its own way of bullying and thugish behavior, albeit perhaps more subtle at times. Tyler is not living in another moral universe. We all live in the same messed up and complicated moral universe.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

josh p's picture

Larry wrote:

 Many of them may well pass the character test, but I cannot vote for a person who would put in place policies I believe are harmful and potentially destructive—especially to unborn life. 

Perhaps this says all that needs to be said about the judgment of David French. A person who can say that there are Democratic  candidates that "may well pass the character test" is a person who has disqualified himself or herself from any public voice.

Here's the things that people like French and Aaron, for all their talking, still don't get: We will be governed by a person of bad character. Which kind of bad character do you want? One with better policies or worse policies?

It is hard to imagine any reasonable person preferring bad character and bad policies to bad character and better policies. Such abdication of moral responsibility is staggering. And make no mistake about it: It is an abdication of moral responsibility. Multiplying words with philosophical sounding arguments will not change that. The emperor will still have no clothes .

 

This is the problem to me. Can you really say emphatically that there is not one Democrat that could pass a character test? Being a libertarian, I am disgusted slightly more by the policies of the democrats than I am the republicans (or at least what they advocate; since both sides do about the same) but I see no better character in the Republicans. It amazes me that you believe a person is not worthy of a political voice to think otherwise. Since you believe there is such a disparity between the moral standing of the parties can you list a few republicans of character? This kind of rah rah for "our team" is so off base to me. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I am grateful that Christians in democracies have the ability to choose their leaders. This is a luxury the apostles did not have in 1st century Judea, Galilee and Samaria. As long as we have the ability to choose, some of us will disagree.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

WallyMorris's picture

Josh:

First: This is not a "rah rah for our team". I have voted in Presidential elections (and other elections) since 1976 and am not registered with any political party. My category would be Independent, although I usually vote Republican in elections.

Second: The immediate point of this discussion concerns suitability of Presidential candidates, not an evaluation of every Democrat or Republican office holder. Concerning those running for the Democratic nomination, consider -

Sanders: socialist who hasn't accomplished any significant legislation in his entire Senate career

Buttigieg: homosexual mayor of South Bend who believes he is morally superior to those who believe homosexuality is morally wrong and who accomplished . . . what as mayor?

Klobuchar: classic liberal with liberal moral views on social issues

Biden: Obama's VP - need I say more?

Warren: Flake

Bloomberg: billionaire trying to buy the Presidency, willing to consider Hillary Clinton as VP (THAT should scare you)

Republican of character: Mike Pence, not perfect but I know people who know him, since he was governor of Indiana - decent man, despite his caving on religious freedom legislation in Indiana.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

josh p's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

Josh:

First: This is not a "rah rah for our team". I have voted in Presidential elections (and other elections) since 1976 and am not registered with any political party. My category would be Independent, although I usually vote Republican in elections.

Second: The immediate point of this discussion concerns suitability of Presidential candidates, not an evaluation of every Democrat or Republican office holder. Concerning those running for the Democratic nomination, consider -

Sanders: socialist who hasn't accomplished any significant legislation in his entire Senate career

Buttigieg: homosexual mayor of South Bend who believes he is morally superior to those who believe homosexuality is morally wrong and who accomplished . . . what as mayor?

Klobuchar: classic liberal with liberal moral views on social issues

Biden: Obama's VP - need I say more?

Warren: Flake

Bloomberg: billionaire trying to buy the Presidency, willing to consider Hillary Clinton as VP (THAT should scare you)

Republican of character: Mike Pence, not perfect but I know people who know him, since he was governor of Indiana - decent man, despite his caving on religious freedom legislation in Indiana.

Yes I see now that his statement had only to do with the current candidates. I would like to point out that policies do not necessarily equal character flaws. As an example, I think Trump's liberal policies are reprehensible but I can't quite go so far as to say they are immoral. It's just sillly imo to dismiss everyone on the other side as not meeting a character threshold without even listing what the problem is. Abortion of course is terrible and those who advocate it do not meet a minimum threshold but it seems to me the people supporting Trump here were not willing to acknowledge the concept of a character threshold applied to him. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

Can you really say emphatically that there is not one Democrat that could pass a character test?

Yes, with reference to the current candidates. All of the support abortion. That is a major character flaw. It is not just a policy issue. Then they are multiple other issues on top of that. 

It amazes me that you believe a person is not worthy of a political voice to think otherwise.

That was a strong statement to be sure, and I don't mean it in a legal way or even a political way. I mean it in a moral way. If one believes that there is a Democratic candidate of moral character, then he or she clearly has bad judgment.

Since you believe there is such a disparity between the moral standing of the parties can you list a few republicans of character? This kind of rah rah for "our team" is so off base to me. 

I am not sure there are many republicans of character. The nature of politics seems to me to rule out high character people. I don't have much use for Republicans either. My point is that we are going to have a leader with bad character. Let's at least have one with better policies. Refusing to vote for one won't change that. It will simply give you no voice in the future. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Wally wrote:
My voting for a particular candidate or not voting for a particular candidate doesn't enable him as far as his character. He will be that way regardless of what I do. 

Nobody is making this claim. The claim is that (a) when you put a man of poor character in charge of something, the impact of his poor character is -- obviously -- significantly expanded, (b) being president of the US has character requirements, (c) Christians should not try to put men of poor character in charge.

Wally wrote:
I fail to see the moral rightness of how not voting for a poor Republican candidate is better morally than allowing a worse Democratic candidate to become President.

Yes, you do fail to see it.

Wally wrote:
But when a homosexual or socialist becomes President because Christians couldn't bring themselves to vote for a poor Republican candidate, don't complain about what the new President does.
 

This is all outcome reasoning. I've already proven that Christians aren't supposed to look at choices and ask first "What will be the results of my action or inaction?" The first question is, "Would any of the options on the table normally be wrong?"  (I've also proven that it's normally not right to help a man of very poor character gain a position of leadership. See my post on the Proverbial fool, for example... but really, it's obvious.)  The second question is "Can doing this action be justified by circumstances?" Sometimes the answer is yes. If the answer is yes, then we're ready to ask the question, "Do the circumstances, including both long term and short term outcomes, both big-picture as well as focused area of interest outcomes, justify this action?"

Wally wrote:
Tyler's reference to the City of God is helpful. But if "voting for Donald Trump will only hasten the moral chaos and filth that is our society", then wouldn't a homosexual President "hasten the moral chaos" even more?

The answer is "Quite possibly, yes." Even more importantly, though, the answer is "When we do the right thing the outcomes are not our responsibility." It's important to frame the whole thing in terms of "What is my responsibility?" before looking at cause and effect. Framing it simply as "What will happen?" is not a Christian way to approach it.

Wally wrote:
Nevertheless, as citizens of a representative democracy which uses voting to choose leaders, we have to make SOME choice in November. The current choices are not ideal. Yet someone will be President regardless of what you do. Would I like to see someone like Pence as President. Sure. But I prefer to have Trump as President than a homosexual or a socialist. And I can live with that very well.

This is a pretty widespread perspective, so it's not my purpose to pick on you personally, Wally. But this analysis ignores so, so many factors even if we just look at outcomes--which I've labored to show we should not. But just looking at outcomes, there's widespread neglect of the ideological context of the conflict.

  • We really are in a culture war, and a culture war is a war of ideas.
  • Winning positional and policy victories doesn't advance toward victory in the culture war if there is no actual movement in how Americans think.
  • Winning positional and policy victories by electing a leader who belies our core principles in the war of ideas--who is a living sermon against those ideas--cannot produce positive movement in how Americans think. It makes the whole effort appear to be a sham. In fact, huge swaths of the right now don't merely appear to be a sham--they clearly are a sham, and Trump is their banner. This kind of leadership basically says "Let's accomplish these policy objectives because we want them... even though our leader's character loudly declares that they are utterly meaningless."
WallyMorris's picture

Outcomes? Isn't that the whole point of voting for someone? Voting is about what someone will do, which is "outcome".

You can argue ideology and philosophy all you want. Bottom Line: Someone will be elected in November. Of the entire group, Trump, although very flawed, is the best "outcome".

For those who will not vote for Trump, EXACTLY what ARE your standards which you look for in a candidate and how will you make a decision? Where is the point where you decide "OK, I can vote for this person."? What are your objective criteria? Some set the criteria so high that they couldn't vote for anyone other than Christ Himself. From what I've read here, the criteria is so high that no one could qualify as an acceptable candidate. Ronald Reagan? Well, he cussed, divorced, and had a wife involved in the occult. Don't forget the Iran-Contra scandal. The Bush's? Both had a foul mouth and caved to the political left. My point is setting standards so high eliminates just about everyone. Yes, we can sit in our chair and console ourselves that we are abiding by our selective principles while the political left continues to cater to people's sin nature in order to gain and keep power.

Don't misunderstand: Principles are necessary; they guide practical decisions. And eventually there are lines which no Christian can cross (Caesar as God, for example). But someone can stick to principles so strongly that they allow evil to outmaneuver them.

Victory in the culture war? I'm not voting for someone who can promote victory in the culture war. That's for the gospel, not the President. At best, a good President can delay the deterioration by certain policies, even if that person himself is seriously flawed (which itself is part of the problem).

I am amazed that Christians are willing to allow someone worse than Trump to be President because they cannot vote for Trump because of their "principles". Yet those same "principles" can allow a homosexual or socialist to be President. Astounding!

I'm not going to comment further on this topic. Probably everything has been said that really needs to be said.

 

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

josh p's picture

To all those complaining about the radical left and their terrible immorality, I would like to propose that many in this thread would vote for that homosexual man that advocates abortion under the right circumstances. After all it’s all about outcomes and if the other option was bad enough he would get the vote of those who believe it’s is all about preventing something worse. The Republican Party has moved so far left and ridiculous that many people can’t even recognize how much of a farce the party has become. When the openly gay pro abortion candidate is the republican, the “right” will dutiful check the box to put him in office to prevent a worse outcome.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

All actions have meaning apart from their outcomes. This is easy to demonstrate. Compare these two actions:

  • Bob smacks his son on the head because he mistakenly thought the son had a mosquito feasting on his forehead (poor lighting... campfire)
  • Bob smacks his son because because Bob's an ornery brute and his son annoyed him

Assuming the smack itself has the same force, the outcomes are visibly identical. Son get's a bit of pain. But the acts have very different meanings because motivation matters, and because in one scenario the act is justified and in the other it isn't.

So, the acts have different ethical significance because of the need to justify the act. Using the grid I mentioned earlier, a good way to analyze the ethics is like this:

  1. Is it normally wrong to smack your kid on the head? (Is it an act that would need justifying?)  ... yes
  2. Can smacking your kid on the head be justified? (Could there circumstances that would make it the right thing to do?) Yes.
  3. Do the circumstances justify it? Well, in the case of annoyance, no; in the case of killing the bug, probably... assuming an appropriate level of force.

With a small simple act like that it's not hard to do steps two and three. If you're a reasonably kind person, you don't have to do any step by step contemplation at all.

With something as precious as the ability to have a role in choosing who will govern your nation, "pondering the path of our feet" (Prov 4.26) is pretty clearly indicated. Prov. 4.27 elaborates: we're supposed to try to determine what the straight path is and not veer to the left or the right, but turn our feet away from "evil."

So is a vote "all about outcomes"? Well, nothing we do is all about outcomes. Nothing. It's also about motivations, purposes, meaning (what the act communicates), principles.

But as I alluded to in my previous post, even if we choose "outcomes alone" as the playing field, looking broadly and deeply at the outcomes makes voting for someone so far below the character a conservative president ought to have highly questionable, at best. (I think outcomes alone are enough to take that option off the table, but I don't think "outcomes alone" is how Christians should evaluate their choices.)

But speaking of outcomes...

What I'm trying to claim in that area is that conservatism used to be about preserving the best wisdom of the West. In the 90s we insisted that holding leaders to high character standards was an essential part of conservatism. David French asks, were we wrong then or are we wrong now? 

His answer is that we're wrong now. I heartily agree. Without basic good character (not perfect character, overall good character) as a requirement in leaders, conservatism really has no claim to having a better way to approach society and public policy. It can only claim to have different preferences... if even that. About all movement conservatism can claim right now is that it prefers to defeat the other guys... by the lowest of means, if that's what's at hand. Public discourse and policy might as well be a checkers game. Black isn't better than red, it's just "our side" and the whole point is "winning," and nothing else. But add in that cheating is perfectly fine as long as you win.

So to put it yet another way: if conservatism doesn't have the moral high ground, it doesn't have anything. Zip. And when a movement puts leaders of this sort at the top, it not only loses credibility with the undecided, it also loses self respect. A movement that abandons its most important principles in order to "win," stomps on the flame of its own soul.

Today's right is already dead and decaying. It just doesn't know it yet... or much care, apparently.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I've been reading "Christians shouldn't support Trump" posts for two or more years now.  When you get down to the bottom line, it becomes a very subjective choice based upon selective principles.  It boils down to, "I won't support him because I don't like him."  Lofty reasons are given, but they cannot be explained in consistent behavior applied equally to all candidates in every election. 

How does a Christian decide when the "line" has been crossed?  No candidate is perfect.  Failing to support the candidate of one of the two major parties helps elect the nominee of the other party.  One may find a candidate so faulty that they cannot bring themselves to vote for him, but reality dictates that such a choice will help elect another candidate whose policies are seriously destructive.  Why is that considered a noble and principled stand?  That may seem principled to some.  It looks more like short-sighted pettiness to me.

G. N. Barkman

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Can you honestly read this comment https://sharperiron.org/comment/114942#comment-114942 and say it's just "I don't like him"? Seriously?

Well, either way, there are actual arguments there, and waving them off as "just don't like him" is not a counterargument. It doesn't engage the premises and reasoning at all.

Bert Perry's picture

Beyond the issues of other Presidents with equally bad character (Kennedy, Clinton) and the fact that part of the issue is that nobody's "covering" for Trump in the way the media and politicians routinely do for Democrats, one thing that strikes me is that the vilification of Trump also results from the elevation of some of our hot button personal issues over other measures of immorality.

We're worried about his philandering and lying--I am, too--but isn't it also a moral issue when someone expresses support for abortion even going into infanticide, or allows his supporters to threaten his rivals (Sanders), or tries to buy his way into the election (Bloomberg), endorses gun control policies used by all governments involved in the great genocides of the 20th century (all Democrats), endorses welfare policies that are 100 times more lethal to blacks than was the Klan, or provides billions of dollars to the world's biggest purveyor of terror?

Really?  I'm no huge fan of Trump (though I like many of his results), but this just seems myopic.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

josh p wrote:

To all those complaining about the radical left and their terrible immorality, I would like to propose that many in this thread would vote for that homosexual man that advocates abortion under the right circumstances. After all it’s all about outcomes and if the other option was bad enough he would get the vote of those who believe it’s is all about preventing something worse. The Republican Party has moved so far left and ridiculous that many people can’t even recognize how much of a farce the party has become. When the openly gay pro abortion candidate is the republican, the “right” will dutiful check the box to put him in office to prevent a worse outcome.

Nope. If the choice was a Republican Buttigieg or a Democrat, you would see a serious conservative third party alternative.

josh p's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

josh p wrote:

 

To all those complaining about the radical left and their terrible immorality, I would like to propose that many in this thread would vote for that homosexual man that advocates abortion under the right circumstances. After all it’s all about outcomes and if the other option was bad enough he would get the vote of those who believe it’s is all about preventing something worse. The Republican Party has moved so far left and ridiculous that many people can’t even recognize how much of a farce the party has become. When the openly gay pro abortion candidate is the republican, the “right” will dutiful check the box to put him in office to prevent a worse outcome.

 

 

Nope. If the choice was a Republican Buttigieg or a Democrat, you would see a serious conservative third party alternative.

Doesn't matter. The point is that if there wasn't one, the "outcome only" folks would be forced to vote for him. If there ever was going to be a serious third party option it would have happened already. The problem is that conservatives refuse to "allow a democrat" by voting for someone who has no chance of being elected. 

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